Rock Church in Providence owns rich, diverse history
By Taylor Scott
April 9, 2006 | PROVIDENCE -- After passing the illuminated
stained glass windows your first impressions of the
Inn and Old Rock Church are those of a quaint and
cozy hideaway. The building greets you with warmth.
When you walk in you feel as though your sweet old grandma
will come around the corner with a mug dripping of hot
cocoa, and warm freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
The air smells of history, and the peacefulness of the
inn can be deafening.
The former Providence LDS chapel and meeting house
was added to the National Register of Historic Places
in 1982. The historic roots of the Old Rock Church
and Inn go deep, back to the arrival of the pioneers.
Construction on the rock meeting house began in 1869,
making it one of the oldest buildings in Cache Valley,
even in the entire state of Utah. The work was done
by pioneers that had crossed the continent in covered
wagons and hand carts. The church was built using mostly
materials obtained locally, including the rocks which
were extracted from nearby mountains, said current owner
"The heritage is what we are all about, it's almost
like communing with the pioneers," said Seethaler.
Over the years this historic building has served as
much more than an inn and church, said Seethaler. It
was temporarily used as the LDS First Ward chapel; it
was, in the early years, used socially as a theater
and community center for all of Cache Valley. Seethaler
said it was famous for its all-night dances due to the
fact it had the finest dance floor in the entire valley.
Also, a group of entertainers called the "Providence
Players" performed dramas and musicals on its stage.
Unfortunately, as the valley's population grew other
buildings began to take its place in the heart of Providence
and this magnificent building faded into history. In
1968, the LDS Church sold the building and from 1968
through 1979 it was owned and operated by Dennis and
Edith Carlson. They constructed a staircase in the chapel,
modifying the room into a wedding and reception area
which was named "Rosella Manor." However, Seethaler
said, the owners used the building mostly for storing
fabrics for a business the family owned in Providence.
The building was sold again in 1979 to Cliff and Elaine
Mayfield. The Mayfields used the building as a residential
care facility for the elderly; they made many modifications
to the building while still keeping that historic feeling
and history. Sadly, Seethaler said, the couple had
to sell the premises in September 1993, after Cliff
Mayfield contracted cancer and could no longer care
for the building.
Seethaler purchased the building from the Mayfields
in 1993. Seethaler said he stumbled upon it after moving
to Providence, and while in search of Providence city
offices he had apparently confused the two buildings.
"Whether it is empty or has people in it this building
still holds dignity," Seethaler said, adding, "It was
impressive then and still is today."
It wasn't until the early winter of 1994 that he decided
to turn the property into a bed and breakfast. Seethaler
then made several renovations, even requesting outside
help from interior designer Elizabeth Rogers of the
College of Family Life at Utah State University. Seethaler
now uses the building as an inn and wedding reception
Seethaler said, "Bed and Breakfasts are often used
as a means to preserve historic buildings.
"At first sight it is interesting, it's an interesting
place," was Seethaler's response, when asked what makes
the Inn so charming.
Finally, when asked whether any famous people had
stayed at the Inn Seethaler was reluctant to release
names for privacy reasons but did say several LDS church
authorities along with entertainers had stayed on the
property. Also, Seethaler added that the QVC Network
had broadcast from the premises.
The Providence Inn and Old Rock Church is at 10 S.
Main St. in Providence.